HOUSTON (Christian Examiner)—A photo of megachurch pastor Ed Young Sr. praying with reality star and transgender activist Caitlyn Jenner at Young's Second Baptist Church of Houston has caused significant controversy from all sides of the political spectrum. Young's son, Fellowship Church pastor Ed Young Jr., posted photos and tweeted about the interaction after the Dec. 18 visit.
You don't go to a kids' Christmas play and use that as a vehicle to send your message. That's just plain wrong.
Jenner, former Olympic medialist "Bruce Jenner," attended the church's Christmas pageant as part of the filming of his "I Am Cait" reality show. Season two of the reality show will begin airing next spring.
Young's church took a lead role in opposing Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance—otherwise known as HERO that allowed transgendered individuals to use public restrooms of the gender with which they identified. The Houston City Council enacted the ordinance in May of 2014. In November the ordinance was officially repealed.
Young Sr. called the ordinance "godless"—along with "deceptive and deadly"— in one of his sermons, according to Houston's Fox26. Jenner's attendance—along with the film crew—at the recent Christmas pageant seemed like a publicity stunt to some.
"You don't go to a kids' Christmas play and use that as a vehicle to send your message. That's just plain wrong," said former Harris County GOP chair Jared Woodfill, according to Houston's ABC 13.
Breitbart Texas says Rev, Dave Welch, executive director of the U.S. Pastor Council echoed Woodfill's thoughts.
"The photo ops conducted by Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner in at least two Houston megachurches who were very active in defeating Mayor Parker's Bathroom Ordinance, were transparent and prove that the battle for decency, freedom and faith is far from over," Welch said. "The tragic stories of Mr. Jenner and those like him who have become confused about how God designed them as male or female, call for our compassion to help heal them, and our determination to never let their plight be our new normal."
Breitbart Texas also reported that Garrett Booth, senior pastor of Grace Church in Houston confirmed Jenner attended a family Christmas service at the church during the Houston visit.
Yet the criticism of Jenner hasn't just come from the right. Fellow transgendered activists, particularly from the Houston area, have also complained that the reality star was praying with a vocal opponent of the HERO ordinance.
Houston transgendered activist Monica Roberts observed that when the photo was taken of Jenner praying with Young Sr., there were no transgendered activists of color in the photo.
"This is about once again the predominately white trans community conveniently ignoring the fact that some of our trans leaders don't look like y'all, and blowing another opportunity to use your vanillacentric privilege and media access to showcase some of those leaders," Roberts wrote on her blog.
Since announcing to the world last April that he identified as a woman, Jenner has had an uneasy relationship with LGBT activists. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Jenner identified as a traditionalist who was "not resoundedly supportive" of gay marriage. Jenner also identified as a Christian and a Republican.
Jenner, 66, attributed personal uneasiness about gay marriage to age and "traditional" values.
Earlier this month, Jenner further infuriated LGBT activists by suggesting that one of the reasons many transgendered "women" struggled with public perception is that they looked like "a man in a dress."